Today on The Pod, we hear from two educational experts who are passionate about educating ministry leaders and families on ways schools and churches can intersect. First we hear from Nicole Baker Fulgham, whose organization The Expectations Project, is on a mission to end education inequality. Then we hear from Leslie Bolser who provides practical steps—and some cautions—for churches looking to serve local schools.

Welcome to Episode 73 of The Think Orange Podcast.

Where To Listen:  iTunes  |  Google Play  |  Stitcher  |  SoundCloud

Topic Timeline

Nicole Baker Fulgham talks about the Church’s responsibility to engage in the ending of education inequality (9:19)

There are more than 300,00 churches and 50,000 high-poverty schools in America—a 6:1 ratio (10:40)

What it looks like for a church to partner with a public school (11:43)
• Know your reason why (14:11)
• Come without an agenda (15:30)
• Educate yourself on the history of race and class within the community in which you want to partner (16:50)
• Don’t reinvent the wheel (17:31)

If you’re going to seek funding, remember that investors want to see results (19:00)

Partnering with public schools with a spirit of humility and a “how can I help” attitude is a great opportunity to reintroduce our communities to what the church is about (19:14)

Ashley interviews Leslie Bolser (21:02)

The first question church leaders must ask when beginning a school-focused partnership is, “What do both sides see as a win?” (21:36)

The quality and state of the schools in a community determine its economic vitality (23:25)

Your church body already has people connected to your public schools—teachers, parents, administrators, etc.—so ask them about their thoughts and perceptions (25:06)

There’s a difference between the languages schools and churches use, so someone knowledgeable in both worlds who can translate might be beneficial (26:40)

Once you’ve established a partnership, find something to do that’s sustainable and needed (29:32)

Going in with no agenda means being there FOR the school, not wanting something FROM them (32:06)

Explanation of Core Essentials wins and resources (35:15)

Dave and Kevin’s final thoughts (39:50)

People, Places & Helpful Resources

Core Essentials

The Expectations Project

Educating All God’s Children: What Christians Can—And Should—Do To Improve Public Education For Low-Income Kids (book by Nicole Baker Fulgham)

Schools in Crisis: They Need Your Help (Whether You Have Kids or Not) (book by Nicole Baker Fulgham)

Orange Tour

Featured Guests

Leslie Bolser


Leslie Bolser is the creative director for Core Essential Values. She has previously worked in public schools and alternative schools, children’s and student ministry, for the Leo Burnett ad agency, and Disney’s College Program. All of these experiences built her passion for values education in schools, families, and communities. She lives in Indiana with her husband, Chad, and their daughters Mallory and Maren.


A Detroit native, Nicole graduated from the University of Michigan and joined Teach For America (TFA) where she taught 5th grade in Compton, CA. Nicole received her doctorate in education from UCLA with a focus on urban education policy and teacher preparation. She joined the national staff of TFA and held several key leadership roles before starting The Expectations Project. Nicole has written two books: Educating All God’s Children (Baker) and Schools in Crisis (Barna) and has appeared on CNN and ABC. Christianity Today named her one of, “50 Women Leaders Influencing the Church and Culture”. She lives near DC with her husband and their three children. To learn more about Nicole, visit

Nicole Baker Fulgham

Quotes from This Episode

Ideas to Influence the Next Generation

As leaders, we want to have all the answers. And many times, we do! But great leaders have as many questions as they do answers. Next time you sit down to consider what the schools in your community need, take a moment to write down a list of questions you want to ask neighbors, teachers, and administrators before you begin.

Once you’ve assessed the needs, don’t be afraid to pivot from what you originally planned. And be open to the fact that what the school needs won’t feel as grand and glorious as what you originally had in mind. However, that doesn’t mean you should waver from your mission. In fact, surrounded by the right team, a commitment to establishing relationships and doing your homework will help you carry out your mission even better.

Conversation Starters For Your Church

Who are some people who attend your church who are also stakeholders within your local public school?


What words do you think teachers and school administrators would use to describe your church? What words do you hope they would use?

What would you describe as the primary goal of your local public schools (academics, community, character-building, etc.)? In what ways can you see where your church’s mission and the schools’ goals intersect?


What’s something you can do this coming month to show your local schools you care?

Your Hosts

Dave Adamson, The Think Orange Podcast Host


When he’s not working as a pastor at North Point Ministries in Atlanta, Dave is usually making his family cross their arms, roll their eyes, and tap their feet while he takes “just one more quick photo” on family outings. You’ll also often find him up to his neck in “Jewish stuff” as he researches the cultural context of Jesus for his daily Instagram devotions. Learn more about Dave at

Ashley Bohinc, The Think Orange Podcast Host


Ashley serves as the Director of Middle School Strategy at Orange and the USA Director of Carry 117. She has worked with students in public education, athletic and ministry settings for the last 12 years. She is most passionate about resourcing the local church, communicating on stage, developing leaders, working with students and world missions. In her downtime, you’ll find her watching Friends, cheering on the Cleveland Cavaliers, traveling, reading, or on one of her Fairytale Friday Adventures.

Join Us Next Week

Thank you for listening to the Think Orange Podcast.

We hope you’ll join us for episode 74, How To Be Brave, with Danielle Strickland and Sean Watkins. More importantly, we hope that when you think next generation, you think Orange.